It is that time of year again…
Wherever you go you are likely to be bombarded with Boney M’s hallmark bubblegum Christmas carols playing on a loop and soon an infestation of badly costumed mall Santa Clauses will descend on every shopping centre court yard from here to Timbuktu, like a biblical plague.
You will have to contend with tinsel and a seemingly endless supply of Yule time propaganda that serves to send you into a spin of panic and self-loathing as you toil to cook the perfect Christmas meal, decorate a “better homes and gardens” worthy Christmas tree and ensure that, come Christmas morning, your family will find every battery powered, remote driven, overpriced, overrated, button adorned, thing-a-ma-jig their hearts desire.
It is no wonder that so many of us look upon this time with a sense of increasing foreboding and a decreasing bank balance.
But before you reach the end of your rapidly fraying rope and seek the solitude of a dark corner and a bottle of “Christmas spirits”, take a moment to shed your Grinchy ways and imagine a time before the burden of adulthood started to chip away at your holiday sparkle.
When you fought off sleep on Christmas Eve and strained your ears, because maybe, just maybe, you would hear the sound of sleigh bells and reindeer hooves on the roof tiles as Santa came to call.
Remember now, that beneath all of the commercialised Christmas rhetoric, this is, possibly, the only time of the year that most people have to spend uninterrupted time with their families; and if you still find it hard to believe in the spirit of the season, look at the children.
Christmas is such a magical time for children that once you immerse yourself in it you will find that the pure unadulterated magic of it will have you decking the halls with a song in your heart.
It is to this end that we devised a “nice list” of Christmas traditions that you can start today and are guaranteed to help you spend time with your children and nurture the holiday spirit in them.
#1 Decorate the tree together
Yes, I know you like it just so: The ornaments equally distributed and the tinsel hung in perfect spirals around your perfect tree.
But there is more value in letting the little ones decorate the tree with you and place the star.
Even if you fully intend to redo the whole exercise when they are out of sight, let them enjoy the tradition with you.
Let them eat cookies and listen to cheesy Christmas carols and bicker about who hangs the most mundane little ornament and who placed the star last year; it’s all part of the experience so enjoy it even if the result is a tree that looks like Rudolf vomited tinsel all over it.
#2 Create an Advent Calendar
While cardboard advent calendars are now available in many shops there is something about a homemade creation that can be re-used year after year and will become the tradition that everyone looks forward to as signalling the start of the festive season.
A quick search on Pinterest will produce literally hundreds of DIY advent calendars that you can put your own spin on, and while you are at it, why not put your own spin on this countdown to Christmas by replacing small gifts with treasure hunt clues to one big gift on Christmas Eve. Or entrench the spirit of giving with 25 days of random acts of kindness for your children to perform.
#3 An ornament for every year
Grab the craft glue and paint and have your little one create an ornament for the tree every year, then go out of your way to make or buy an extra special ornament for them.
At the end of the year make sure to carefully store not only the ornament that they made but the one you gifted them, so that one day, when they have their own tree, they will have a collection of irreplaceable pieces (each with a memory) to adorn their own tree.
#4 Bake biscuits for Santa
The ingredients for hours of holiday fun with your kids are literally those of an easy gingerbread man recipe, a few cookie cutters, icing sugar and imagination.
Get the family together to bake and decorate biscuits for Santa.
There will be an extra spark of pride for your children when they set out a plate of their own creations for St. Nick on Christmas Eve and even more so when, on Christmas morning, only crumbs are left.
Don’t forget the carrots for his reindeer…
#5 A call from Santa
Technology is not all bad.
Today app stores are filled with applications that will let your young ones put a call in to Santa.
These smart little apps will let you not only have a believable conversation with the patriarch of the North Pole, but some are smart enough to text.
The best thing about this is that it’s a year-round reminder to keep your spot on the nice list.
#6 Santa’s footprints
Powder the soles of a pair of men’s boots with icing sugar and stamp your footprints around the Christmas tree.
On Christmas morning watch as the evidence of the jolly old man’s visit sends shrieks of excitement all around the house. Sometimes seeing is believing and a little sprinkled glitter never hurt anyone.
#7 Christmas eve PJ party
The selection of Christmas-themed movies is absolutely mind boggling this time of year so why not invite the pajama elf to deliver a new set of PJs to each member of the family.
Adorned in your new sleepwear settle the family down for movie night with Christmas-themed snacks and watch the excitement mount.
#8 Go see the lights
Do you remember those car rides? The ones where the whole family drove down the main street of town for the simple joy of going to see the Christmas lights?
Suffice to say that today we would be lucky to find working street lights in our city centres, let alone an ambitious display of Christmas lights but do not despair. This tradition has not died – it has simply evolved and a trip to Emperor’s Palace’s garden of lights is well worth the trip. The display is amazing and a feast for the eye for both young and old.
Check your neighbourhood’s Facebook community page to find out where the hidden gems are located around you.
#9 The gift of giving
Every year have your children donate some of their toys to children in need. Sit with them and talk to them about the toy.
Do they remember when they got it?
What games did they play with it?
Do they think the new owner would like it as much as they did?
Then let them come with you to make the donation to your local children’s shelter and praise them for their generosity.
#10 Write a letter to Santa
The art of letter writing is dying but for modern children. Writing, addressing and posting a letter to the North Pole is a rare treat.
If you, like so many of us out there, don’t even know where to find stamps let alone your nearest post box, you can put shavings of a sparkler in the envelope with the letter and safely set alight the letter at night.
The sparks will look like magic fairy dust whisking their wishlist away on the wind all the way to Santa’s workshop
Remember that it’s all about spending time with your family and giving them memories that they will never ever forget. Long after they stop believing in Santa Claus they will believe in the magic of Christmas and who among us couldn’t do with a little more magic in our lives?
We would also love to hear about your family’s Christmas traditions or even traditions from your childhood.
Words: Leanne Parker